Destination Spotlight

Beyond the Mountaintops ~ Chile as an Emerging Force for Medical Tourism

Destination Spotlight

The nation of Chile is vibrant with opportunity, particularly in the field of medicine.  Healthcare has come a long way in Chile over the past few decades, and now that country is making another leap forward by becoming involved in the burgeoning field of medical tourism.

Clinica las Condes

Founded in 1978, Clinica las Condes received their JCI accreditation in 2008, positioning themselves to become the leading private hospital in Chile to treat international patients. Their goal is to become a 387-bed facility that offers a variety of specialized treatments by 2012. The hospital agreed to a ten-year affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine International in 2007, and with this agreement Clinica las Condes can avail itself to their expertise.

Clinica las Condes plans to work with Patients Without Borders, a new medical tourism service provider based in Boston, Massachusetts.  Founders Suzanne Hart and Jeffrey Carter have combined their years of experience and specialized knowledge in the medical field to launch a company that provides the highest quality referral and coordination services for pre-operative and post-operative care.  

But unlike many other medical tourism agencies that fall short in the “expertise” arena, Patients Without Borders handles every detail of the patient’s experience abroad in partnership with real experts in Chile’s medical and tourism fields to plan patients’ host country logistics.

Before and after travel, Patients Without Borders educates their clients about medical tourism, arranges pre-operative consultations between the patient’s primary care physician and their surgeon abroad, transfers medical records, makes travel arrangements, and provides a variety of other services pertinent to medical tourism.

Another unique aspect of Patients Without Borders’s service is their dedication to high quality care and transparency throughout the process of treatment in another country.  For example, Patients Without Borders will only work with internationally accredited medical facilities like Clinica las Condes.

Also, they partner with domestic agencies with superlative reputations for medical treatment and hospitality.  Translation services and cell phones are provided to patients, thereby easing communication with people in the host country and with family members at home.

An often overlooked advantage to medical tourism in South America is the shared time zone with the eastern U.S., allowing easy communication with family and friends, which is much more difficult when traveling to Asia.  Suzanne Hart, Chief Operating Officer of Patients Without Borders, sees skepticism as the greatest impediment to Americans embarking on medial tourism.  Therefore, the company has plans for a patient blog to be a major part of their website, designed to lend further credibility to medical tourism in general and Patients Without Borders’ services specifically.

Aside from the world-class treatment available at Clinica las Condes and the premium services offered by Patients Without Borders, there are several reasons for Americans to choose Chile as a medical tourism destination.  First of all, Clinica las Condes offers the highest standards of healthcare practices for a fraction of the price of similar procedures offered in the United States.  According to the team at Patients Without Borders, “traveling outside of the U.S. can save a patient up to 90% of their medical costs”.

There is no visa required for Americans to travel to Chile, which also makes it easier to undergo surgery there. In addition, Chile is much closer to the U.S. than the major medical tourism spots in Asia, allowing for a much shorter and more comfortable flight.

In fact, Patients Without Borders plans to provide “a first-class door-to-door patient experience, including airport connections, optional business or first class airline services, luxury hotels and individualized tourism packages” in South America that will “decrease travel time from North America by roughly 50% relative to Asia”.

Finally, there are myriad attractive tourist destinations in Chile, which can enhance the experience for the patient and anyone who accompanies them on their trip.  La Chascona (home of Pablo Neruda), the bohemian neighborhood of Bellavista, and the Cerro San Cristobal cable car are just a few of the most popular tourist attractions in the Santiago area.

The combination of world-class medical care and breathtaking tourist attractions make Chile an ideal medical tourism destination. Clinica las Condes and its expert staff welcome the opportunity to treat international patients and demonstrate their high-level care to the world. And with medical tourism service providers like Patients Without Borders prepared to make arrangements for travel and pre- and post-operative care, medical tourism is safer and more convenient than ever.  

Making an agreement with Johns Hopkins Medicine International and securing their JCI accreditation comprise the first step this hospital has taken toward becoming a major player in the medical travel industry, and it is off to an auspicious start, indeed.

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